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Google Now Warning WordPress Users They Need To Update

Estimated reading time: 1 minute, 33 seconds

If you own a WordPress website and you haven’t updated your WordPress version lately you might be getting a warning soon. And no, this is not the warning you get when you open the WordPress CMS, it is a warning from Google.

Last week the first people started noticing that Google had sent them a message within Google Webmaster Tools saying they should update their WordPress versions. I myself today got an e-mail from GWT saying one of my sites needs an update.

The e-mail or message in WMT tells you your site appears to be running an older version of WordPress and that you should update because otherwise your site may be vulnerable to hacking or malware.

When asked through Twitter about the messages Matt Cutts responded it was in fact a new policy from Google.

The fact that Google is ‘pushing’ the updates is remarkable but also makes sense. Not-upgraded WordPress sites are fairly easily hackable and therefore a possible danger for Webspam in the SERPS.

If you are thinking: “how does Google know I am not running the latest version?” the answer is simple: it is in your code, which anybody can see by using “view source”.

WordPress expert Joost de Valk is happy with the new policy:

“I think it’s awesome that Google is sending out these messages and urging people to upgrade. I deal with hacked blogs on a regular basis, often because I’ve been hired in a “hey, we’ve lost all our search traffic!!” panic. Upgrading WordPress and the plugins within is the best way of keeping secure, next to making sure you have decent backups of your database and files.”

It does look like this is part of something which Google decided to do two years ago, but maybe that never really got off the ground. Maybe that is what Matt means with “fresh run”.

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Bas van den Beld is a speaker, trainer and online marketing strategist. Bas is the founder of Stateofdigital.com. -- You can hire Bas to speak, train or consult.